Skip to contentSkip to site navigation

Senior Theses and Projects

2021/22 Senior Thesis Deadlines, Requirements, Expectations, and Past Projects

Seniors who plan to complete a thesis or project in Urban Studies need to enroll in a one-unit course (URBS 300a and 301b) spread over two semesters. Although the thesis or project is optional for majors, completion is required to be considered for program honors at graduation. Listed below are the deadlines for major components of the thesis or project. In addition, you will find the guidelines and procedures associated with each step of the thesis process. Also note that previous theses and projects are available for view in the library collection (after signing in to the library system). 

Note: All materials are due at 1:00 p.m. on the dates below. Except for the official thesis proposal–which requires signatures on the title page and thus should be submitted by hand to our program office in OLB 210–submit all materials by e-mail to our administrative assistant, Alison Mateer,, with documents attached as .doc or .pdf files, saved as last name and due date, such as:  Smith_09-19-21. Students should take the initiative in contacting thesis/project advisors and scheduling meetings for personal feedback. Deadlines are monitored by the URBS steering committee and failure to meet them will affect the grade.

I. Thesis and Project Procedure and Deadlines

Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021
Urban Studies Majors welcome gathering, hosted by Lisa Brawley (Director).

Friday, Sept. 10, 2021
Drop/add deadline; confirm that you are registered for 300a.

Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021
One-page description of a possible thesis or project topic, including a brief note on how it is informed by your Urban Studies course work. Use the “three-part sentence” as a framework and as your first sentence:
I am interested in working in X
because I want to know more about Y,
so that the people who engage my project will understand more about Z.

TBA Sept 15–22
Topic review session: read each other’s possible topic(s) statements, and provide brief structured feedback. Caroline Knowles, the program intern, will work with Prof Brawley and with the other seniors doing projects or theses to find a time to convene.

Monday, Oct. 4, 2021
Thesis or project proposal due. Include a cover page that indicates your thesis topic, your name, and the name of your thesis advisor. E-mail an electronic copy to Alison Mateer at almateer@vassar. Ask your advisor to send Alison an email saying that they have read your proposal and agree to serve as your advisor. Use your proposal to convey a clear account of your central questions, and why they are both interesting to you and relevant to others (elaborating your three-part sentence). Include a brief bibliography of key sources. Additional guidelines will be provided.

Monday, Nov. 15, 2021
Deadline for a draft of a significant component of your work, along with a project outline. During one of the first meetings with your advisor you should discuss what kind of deliverable to submit for this deadline. It could be a draft chapter (not necessarily the first one); or it also consist of significant written work in a different format (or for example a schematic set in the case of a design project). It depends on what you and your advisor find most productive and appropriate for the progress of your project. You should also provide a bibliography of the references you cite in this chapter. A revised outline should make clear where the submitted chapter falls in the context of the complete thesis.

Register for the second half of the senior thesis or project, URBS 301b.

Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021
Senior thesis and project presentations, 12–2 p.m.

Revise/update your three-part sentence.

By this date you should have received and incorporated some feedback on your first submission and you should be able to briefly summarize your argument and the plan of your work.

We will collaboratively design a format for presenting your work. Ordinarily, presentations last no more than 5 minutes. The goal of the presentations is to get as much feedback as possible, with enough time left to respond to and incorporate the feedback from a broader audience of advisors, urban studies faculty and other guests. You are encouraged to invite guests who are relevant for your topic.

Make sure to schedule at least one more meeting with your advisor before leaving for winter break to discuss the feedback, and discuss your plans for researching and developing your first draft of the entire thesis. You are also expected to consult with your advisors when you return from Winter Break with regard to your on-going research and writing.

Friday, Feb 4, 2022
Please submit a second chapter or second significant portion of your work to your advisor. Revise your three-part sentence; email it to Alison, and share it with the senior cohort.

Friday, March 25, 2022
First draft of thesis or project is due.

Friday, April 22, 2022
Final version of thesis or project due; e-mail your work as an attachment to E-mail your thesis as a .doc or .pdf; if there are graphics or other attachments that are too large to be e-mailed, make them available via Google Drive or send them via WeTransfer.

Thursday, May 5, 2022
Thesis and project presentations. Presentations last ~10 minutes: convey on your project’s main questions, the most important findings, your primary argument or interpretation, and your key conclusions.

2016 Theses & Projects

  • Huong Dinh.  “Synergistic Space: Re-investigating Main Street, Poughkeepsie at Street Level”
  • Jonathan Hong. “The 421-a Tax Abatement Program: Affordable Housing Policy and its Effect on characterizing Brooklyn Communities”
  • Destin McMurry. “Hands on the Street:  The Rise of Creative Placemaking and Everyday Tactics in Poughkeepsie, NY”
  • Christian Phelps. “Public Parks From Where And For Whom?  Settler Colonialism and the “Progressive” Erasure of Native Spaces in Madison, WI” 
  • Niccolo Porcello. “Affective Masculinites and Suburban Identities: Nu-Metal as Reflexive Art”
  • Jonah Williams. “Planning, Policy and the Use of Bike Share Programs in Montréal and New York City”

2015 Theses & Projects

  • Emma Bird.  "Grand Illusion:  A Critical Appraisal of Paris’s Divisive Makeover"
  • Kiran Chapman. "Urban Growth and the Slum:  Analyzing Redevelopment Through Tri-Sector Networks"
  • Peter Eccles.  "Can You Get There From Here?  Creating a User-Friendly Mobility Experience for Dutchess County"
  • Emma Foley.  "From Emergency Shelters to Housing First:  Rethinking Solutions to Urban Homelessness"
  • Simon Hardt.  "Paradise Is Not a Dream:  The Evolution Of The New Urbanism In Florida"
  • Susie Martinez.  "Home Base:  Race and Identity in a Gentrifying South Bronx"
  • Brett Merriam.  "A World in Itself:  The University, the College Center, and the Fantasy Aesthetic of Heterotopia"
  • Kevin Ritter. "Performing the Great Queer Hope"
  • Jiajing Sun.  "Chinese Historic Preservation:  Historic districts under contemporary redevelopment"
  • Uriel Walker.  "Down the shore everything’s all right: Cultural restructurings in greater New York’s coastal leisure sites"

2014 Theses & Projects

  • Emma Carter. “Perennial Tensions in NYC Community Gardens: An Analysis of New York City’s Greenthumb Program”
  • Isabel Deixel. “Shifting Gears: Approaches to Bicycle Activism in New York City”
  • Lauren Stamm. “Deconstructing the Dual City: Preservation and Tourism in La Habana Vieja”
  • Isaac Lindy. “It’s Not Little Senegal”: The Tactical Redefinition of the Senegalese Ethnic Enclave In Gentrified Harlem, New York” 
  • Andrea Sherman. “Uniting Discourses of Sustainability and the Social Environment: Modeling Connections Between Seemingly Disparate Fields”
  • Katharine George. “Living with Historic Preservation: A Study of the Past as it is Remembered in the Present by Three Case Studies in the City of Poughkeepsie, New York”
  • Edyth Jostol. “The Enduring Change of Temporary Use: The Effect of Creative Placemaking in Cleveland”
  • Julia Maltby. “Conceptions of Race in Higher Education: How Colleges and Universities’ Injurious Relations with Predominantly Black Localities Exacerbate White Students’ Racial Biases”
  • Carlos Hernandez Tellez. “Harvesting Resilience: Developing the design of a food hub through the adaptive reuse of the abandoned Poughkeepsie Underwear Factory building”
  • Philip Durniak. “Which Time Is It?  Multi-Temporality and the Illegibility of the Vassar Campus”
  • Riley Gold. “The Figure of the Artist in Creative Class Urbanism”
  • Ian Leidner. “The Brooklyn Waterfront: Building for a Resilient and Sustainable Future”
  • Claire Summers. “Policy Transfer and the Global City Dilemma”
  • Elizabeth Tepler. “Healing Architecture: Unraveling the Spatial Problematic of the Emergency Room Waiting Area through Tactical Urbanistic Intervention”
  • Logan Woodruff. “Tactical Urban Interventions in the Neoliberal City”

2013 Theses & Projects

  • Celia Castellan. “In the Business of Change: Food Hubs, Entrepreneurialism, and the Politics of Devolution”
  • Michelle Dingsun. “A Field Guide to Urbanism: Portland, Oregon Edition”
  • Devin Griffin. “Move It Along: The Social-Spatial Imaginaries of Urban Spaces and the Exclusion of Homeless Populations”
  • Nicholas Korody. “Drifting through Occupied Architectures: Confining Necessity and Apophenic Resistance”
  • Matthew Kramer. “Night Light: 1000 Luminary Balloons in Sunset Lake”
  • Julia McGill. “Sue Terre”
  • Marissa Reilly. “Ecological Atonement in Fresh Kills: From Landfill to Landscapes”
  • Mariesa Samba. “The Great Divergence in the Suburbs: Suburban Poverty and Second-Class Citizenship”
  • Priscilla Sevilla. “Towards an Understanding of Marginality: Race and Class Relations in the Villas Miserias of Buenos Aires" 
  • Noah Zaccaglini. “Architecture as Instruction: Paradigmatic Interventions in the Favelas of Rio de Janeiro”

2012 Theses & Projects

  • Nicholas Burrell. “The Future is your Choice: Art, Urbanism, and Activism in the (Post)Industrial City”
  • Emily Dunuwila. “No School Left Behind: The Power of School-Community Partnership”
  • Cassie Hackel. “Take Me to the River: An Examination of Two Hudson Valley riverfront parks in the context of urban revitalization”
  • Assefash Makonnen. “A Womanist Approach to Urban Development on 125th Street: Making the Case for the Unmarked”
  • William Mann. “The Landscape of Industrial Spectacle: Reviving Public Interest in Production”
  • Sam Stolman-Smouha. “What does sustainability mean in Hunts Point, the Bronx?”
  • Allison Tilden. “On the Beat: A survey of surveillance in Brooklyn, NY”
  • Pamela Vogel. “Exploring Indentity Zones: A Case Study in Urban After-School Space and Black Masculinity”
  • Amanda Wigen. “Route 9 Urbanism: Animating the Architecture of Consumption”
  • Zachary Zeilman. “Reimagining the Industrial Landscape through Adaptive Reuse: Comparative Case Studies from New York and the Ruhr Valley”